29 March 2011
Last updated at 04:48 ET
The cyber attacks are believed to have been on the Australian Parliament House email network
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s parliamentary computer and those of at least two senior ministers are suspected of being hacked, according to a newspaper report.
The government was alerted to the security breach by a US intelligence tip-off, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph said.
It is reported that several thousand emails may have been accessed from the computers of at least 10 ministers.
The Australian authorities have refused to confirm or deny on the reports.
The cyber attacks are believed to have targeted the Australian Parliament House email network, the less secure of two networks used by MPs.
Among the computers allegedly breached were those belonging to Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd and Defence Minister Stephen Smith.
Reports suggest the hackers may have been trying to access information on Australia’s lucrative mining industry.
Sydney’s Daily Telegraph quoted four unnamed government sources as saying Chinese intelligence agencies were among a number of suspected hackers.
The government says it will not comment on specific intelligence matters.
However, Attorney-General Robert McClelland said that the Australian authorities were “constantly strengthening cyber security measures”.
The US recently said China’s cyber-warfare capabilities were formidable, though China routinely denies hacking claims.